Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 50

December 12-18, 2002

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In This Week's Issue:

‘Topgun’ Sturgell Zeroing in on Top FAA Slot

At the Federal Aviation Administration, the challenges are flying these days like the planes the agency regulates. Since last week, the FAA cracked down on aging aircraft and watched the nation’s second biggest carrier, United Airlines, file for bankruptcy.

To help the airline regulatory agency meet challenges in the future, the White House has announced that it will nominate Robert Sturgell, of Owings, to become the FAA’s deputy administrator.

Bobby “Topgun” Sturgell, at right holding blimp, during his 1998 run for Maryland Senate, will become second in command at the FAA, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Sturgell — a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy — is known by many along the Bay in connection with his family’s landmark restaurant, Happy Harbor in Deale.

He is also a lawyer, a pilot and an expert on aviation who presently works as senior counsel to FAA administrator Marion Blakey.

Before joining the FAA, Sturgell, who is known widely as Bobby, was a top official at the National Transportation Safety Board. Before working in Washington, he was a flight officer and flight operations supervisor for United Airlines.

Sturgell served in the Navy as an aviator for nine years and was a staff member of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, known as Topgun. He was a Republican candidate for state Senate, running against senate president Mike Miller in 1998.

As deputy administrator, Sturgell will be the No. 2 official in the federal agency that is charged with overseeing both the safety and the efficiency of the nation’s aviation system.

Just last week, for instance, the FAA issued a new rule to protect the public from aging aircraft. Under the new regulation, most commercial aircraft in use for more than 14 years would have to undergo inspections and review of maintenance records.

Also last week, the FAA fined several airlines for inadequate maintenance of their aircraft.

Sturgell replaces Monte Belger, who retired in August and who had never been confirmed by the Senate for the deputy’s job. Sturgell’s position, too, is subject to Senate confirmation.

— Bay Weekly

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Bugeye Tennison Sails on Maryland Roads

Extraordinarily observant readers may have noticed tiny bugeyes sailing Calvert County’s highways and byways, riding the wakes of wheeled vehicles. Such sightings have increased since February, when the Calvert Marine Museum asked the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to make room on a handful of specially issued license plates for the museum’s new logo — a silhouette of that venerable vessel, the Wm. B. Tennison.

The plates were first offered only to the museum’s board and members, says Vanessa Gill, the museum’s director of development, “because those people showed the most interest in the museum.” But the initial popularity of the plates suggested they might thrive on the open market, so the museum made them available for public purchase.

“I expected just local people to call,” Gill says, “but we’ve had orders from lighthouse lovers as far away as Idaho and Utah.”

Lighthouse lovers? Why would lighthouse lovers be interested in a license plate bearing a sailboat’s silhouette?

All the funds raised by license plate sales go directly to the Cove Point Lighthouse, Gill explains.

Built in 1828, Cove Point is the oldest continually operating lighthouse in Maryland and is maintained by the Marine Museum. It sits on a thin sliver of land just south of Lusby, inside a gated residential area.

“It’s closed during the winter,” Gill says, “but we’re going to have a winter lights event January 18 and 19, where people can get on the grounds.”

The Calvert Marine Museum license plates are available directly from the museum for $45, of which $20 goes to support Cove Point. That $20 is tax deductible.

The museum is only one organization among many that raise funds by selling license plates.

Nearly 600 organizations sell specially issued Maryland plates to their supporters, according to Cheron Wicker of the state Motor Vehicle Administration. “Some of the 595 include the Baltimore Bicycling Club, Greyhound Pets of America, Baltimore Duckpin Bowlers, Tuskegee Airmen and Square Dancers,” she says.

Even the Sons of Confederate Veterans were issued a plate, though Wicker says it was “withdrawn based on widespread complaints.”

The distinctive designs capitalize on the dull design of Maryland license plates. Historically, Maryland plates have had no slogan or symbol. The colorful crest was added in 1984, to commemorate the state’s 350th anniversary, but there’s still plenty of blank canvas left.

Orange license plates with a red barn and the phrase “Our Farms — Our Future” appeared in Maryland last year. Drivers have registered close to 40,000 Ag Tags, as they are called, since. Those sales have raised half a million dollars for the Maryland Agriculture Educational Foundation.

Most popular of all are the Treasure the Chesapeake tags that feature a blue heron and green cattails, which appeared in 1990. From those plates, which now appear on over 800,000 Maryland vehicles, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has reaped some $10.4 million to invest back in the efforts of citizens and governments to repair the Bay.

The Calvert Marine Museum has more modest goals in mind. It also sells personalized bricks to support the lighthouse. Those cost $75, all of which is tax deductible, Gill says, “because you get nothing back.” The bricks are used to refurbish Cove Point.

Friends of the lighthouse and the museum might prefer a personalized plate stuffed in their stockings this Christmas. The Tennison’s striking silhouette, drawn by exhibits curator Jimmy Langley, is destined to become an icon in Calvert County.

Information? 410/326-2042 • [email protected].

— Brent Seabrook with Amy Mulligan

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Christmas Comes Early to Summit School

Picture this: an early December snowstorm. Schools are closed, and teachers and students are disappointed …

You might be, too, if you had a bright new art studio to paint in, a middle-school-sized gymnasium for shooting hoops in and a performing arts studio with a stage.

That’s the early Christmas present the Summit School opened last week, marking the completion of its new 9,000-square-foot student activity center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Edgewater campus. Due to be completed before the start of school in August, the building stood empty and nearly finished for four long months as students and teachers bustled about, holding art, music and physical education classes in any space they could find: outside, in a trailer, in other teacher’s classrooms.

But last week, with temporary occupancy permit in hand, Summit School celebrated this new beginning for itself and the community. The school, now in its 14th year, moved to Edgewater from Upper Marlboro in 1995. This new construction, planned as the final building of the campus, has been in the works for four years. It was designed and redesigned by architect Tillman Johnson with ideas from teachers and staff, then approved, redesigned and reapproved by Summit’s board of directors, which spent much of its time drumming up funding for the project.

In the works for four years, a new 9,000-square-foot activity center finalizes the campus at Summit School in Edgewater.
The opening was a time for celebrating memories, as well. The gymnasium was named Clyde’s Court to honor the memory of former Summit student Clyde V. Kelly IV, who died in a car accident last year. Clyde’s heritage is local. His grandfather, Earl Hargrove, for years brought his Anne Arundel neighbors The Lane of holiday lights off route 258. (Hargrove’s business is designing props for celebrations at a national scale, including the annual decoration of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse behind the White House in Washington, D.C.) The Lane closed last year, staying open a year after Hargrove had intended in memory of his grandson. Many Kelly and Hargrove family members were on hand at the Summit opening to celebrate Clyde’s memory and his commitment to athletics.

Summit is a small private school, with 107 students, serving bright children who have difficulty learning in regular classroom environments. Students and teachers alike are excited about the possibilities for their big new space. “I can’t wait to paint and get all messy and creative in the new art room,” says sixth grader Carly Van Zanten.

“I am hopeful,” says Summit admissions director Kathy Heefner, “that this building … represents Summit’s responsibility to voice its belief that providing an opportunity for students to creatively move their bodies and to express the art and music within is as important as providing them with the skills to read.”

Most eager, perhaps, are the eighth-grade students, this year’s graduating class. “We’ve been hearing about it for so long,” says Kirk Lyles. “It’s fun to finally play in it.” Student Government president Sam Eckert adds, “I love it. I’m looking forward to playing lots of basketball.”

Students won’t be the only ones to enjoy the new center. The school is seeking collaborations between local schools as well as opportunities for community kids (and their grownups, too) to join in social and sporting events. In the works are such community events as intramural basketball, yoga and aerobics classes, parent-child art classes and local theatrical productions.

“We’re thrilled,” says Summit development director Jennifer Lapan, “because this multipurpose building is already attracting lots of interest from the community.”

Finally, Summit special events that have been on hold can begin. As the holidays approach, guest artist Mary Ann Howard will work with eighth-grade students to create winter wreaths in the sunny new art studio. And in January, local music trio Mosaic will perform two assembly programs on the new stages in part of a week-long residency funded by the Maryland State Arts Council.

“I feel like it’s the first day of school” says physical education assistant Brynn Hooper, “There’s a newfound enthusiasm in the kids — anticipation, excitement — it’s wonderful.”

Information? 410/798-0005.

— Stacy Allen

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Update: Making the Bay a National Issue

Chesapeake Bay is a small step closer to becoming a national landmark, if not a national park.

The Bay is too big, with too much else already going on, to become a national park, like Shenandoah or Yellowstone.

But there might be some value — and some money — in getting national attention for the Bay. That line of thought brought $235,000 from Congress for a Special Resources Study. This fall, Baysiders sat down with the National Park Service to talk about how.

To the table, the Park Service team brought ideas ranging from a Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Center to a series of parks on uninhabited islands. Their goal was to encompass many aspects of the region, from underwater life to town life.

Workshops in the four corners of the Bay, including Annapolis, were well attended and filled with creative brainstorming. “All of the workshops were characterized by thoughtful, interested and engaged discussion,” said Jonathan Doherty, director of the study.

Citizens of Chesapeake Country generally welcomed the National Park Service interest. Of the six early concepts presented, they said they liked a little of each.

Now, the study team has reached a new stage in figuring out how to integrate parts of the Bay into the National Park Service. Team members are considering how to combine the many ideas people gave — like creating a Harriet Tubman National Park to commemorate the Maryland section of the underground railroad — in a second wave of concepts.

Read the suggestions yourself in the November newsletter at

Once the revised concepts are completed, the next step is a second series of workshops in early 2003. After that, a proposal will be drafted for Congress by mid-year.

— Sarah Williams

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Earth Journal ~ The Snowman

More than a few snowpeople sprang up after last week’s snowstorm dumped upward of half a foot on us. It was the first significant accumulation of snow in several years.

Shannon Emery’s first snowkid has vanilla wafer eyes with green ketchup eyeballs, Cheeto ball nose, graham cracker-stick mouth and broccoli button. If you looked quick, you might have seen the pair on Mary Ann Drive in Owings.

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Way Downstream

In Washington D.C., a special judge appointed by the Supreme Court has ruled that Virginia can draw water from the Potomac River despite protests by Maryland. Maryland has fought to preserve the Potomac from Virginia developers …

In Virginia, a dramatic rescue by private boaters saved seven people from the fishing boat Sniper early Sunday, after the 58-foot commercial vessel sprung a huge hole in its bow, sinking in frigid waters off the Virginia coast …

In Los Angeles, the Sundance Kid is promoting solar energy and warning Americans about continued reliance on oil. Actor Robert Redford, who played that role, wrote in an L.A. Times op-ed that continued dependence on fossil fuels guarantees “homeland insecurity” …

Our Creature Feature comes from Yellowstone National Park, where wildlife champion Jane Goodall, known as a pal to chimpanzees, has a new cause: saving cougars. The big cats once roamed every state, but they have been hunted to near extinction, said Goodall, who recently lent her support to the Cougar Fund.

Goodall, 68, who was appointed this year as a special United Nations Messenger of Peace, told Reuters what she’ll be doing and why: “We’ll teach children about the cougar. That it’s persecuted, trying to survive, yet it has done nothing wrong.”

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Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly